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Motorists Buy Their Own Petrol Pump

The Motor Trade Industry fully understand how fuel prices have impacted on the average motorist. But hardly a motor dealer or filling station owner will have come across a motoring community that have taken things entirely into their own hands, yet that’s exactly what people living in Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders did back in 2018.

Having spent almost 10 years without a local petrol station, Newcastleton’s canny villagers managed to raise enough funding to effectively buy their own community petrol pumps.

At the time their fuel station first reopened (March 2018) it was estimated the newly created village filling station could be expected to save local community motorists approximately £300 on their annual motoring fuel bill.

With AA-estimated prices in South Scotland then running at around 119.2p per litre for petrol and 122.7p for diesel, Newcastleton drivers were quietly pleased with this return on their community investment.

But fast forward to May 2022, and those same average fuel prices in the region have soared to 166.7p and 180.6p for petrol and diesel, respectively.

With AA figures suggesting a 20-mile car trip would now cost more than £3 in fuel, what was a smart piece of community housekeeping for Newcastleton’s car owners in 2018 now looks like a very savvy move indeed!

As prices continue to soar elsewhere in the UK, the only small piece of comfort for motorists usually comes from a conversation with their motor insurance broker.

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When renewing their motor insurance policy, many drivers who have cut back their vehicle use in response to rising fuel costs can now declare a much lower annual mileage.

Hearing this, many insurers will reduce their prices a little to reflect the lower accident risk when cars are off the road for longer periods.

Meanwhile, Newcastleton’s happy band of community fuel investors can be excused for continuing to celebrate their good fortune, gone are the days when local drivers had to trek 20 miles just to fill up at the nearest petrol pumps in Langholm.

For most, the harsh reality was a journey of more than double that mileage – but along better roads – to purchase the cheapest petrol in the Borders at Hawick or Carlisle.

Voicing his approval at the filling station purchase, which also included the installation of electric car charging facilities, Greg Cuthbert, community council chairman said: “You had to go all the way to Carlisle or either all the way to Hawick to fuel up. So you can imagine what that put on your weekly or monthly bills.”

Noting that local small businesses were likewise seriously affected by escalating fuel prices, he added: “It was causing real problems and probably knocking profits – if they are making profits – at some of these small businesses, and really hitting the community in the pocket.”

Expanding on the consequences of all this, for businesses and for the wider community, Mr Cuthbert said: “You would find people would be going away to get fuel, and when they were away they would get their shopping. Now you find more people get their fuel here in the village, and they get the shopping in the village as well.”

Explaining what ‘fuel poverty’ can mean in real terms, Mr Cuthbert said: “Anything we do comes at great cost. It is a huge sum out of your weekly wage to travel to work in Carlisle or Galashiels or Hawick. These are the places that we have to go to work, so you can imagine the drain on a family’s finances.”

Describing the Newcastleton facility as a ‘godsend’, he concluded: “It makes a vast difference if you have got your own fuel supply. The fuel station is a lifeline.”